We've reached that point when we look back at some of the biggest events to have taken place this year -- trends that will also continue to have significant repercussions for the years ahead.
It is never easy to pick out the most important news events of the year, as there have been several. In this overview of 2015, we have focused on five key trends: spectrum policy and auctions; VoWi-Fi and VoLTE; the emergence of Altice; the changing stance on M&A at EU level; and the decline of smartphone shipments in Europe. The reasons for focusing on these five areas and the news that shaped them are probably obvious to anyone who has been following the industry closely this year.
Spectrum has been a huge theme this year, in no small part due to the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) that took place in November. In addition, numerous European markets held spectrum auctions in various frequency bands. Importantly, licences in the highly desirable 700 MHz band are also now being allocated.
Voice has re-emerged as a major play for mobile operators this year, as they make use of WiFi calling and voice over LTE (VoLTE) to extend voice services to area with poor coverage and improve the overall quality of voice. Mergers and acquisitions have also remained a high-profile theme this year, but here the hardening stance of competition regulators at the European Commission means that deals are becoming harder to push through, and some are still hanging in the balance as we move into 2016.
Smartphone sales have also been extremely variable depending on the region, with sales stagnating in Western Europe, for example, but still growing in areas such as the Middle East and Africa.
Finally, we don't tend to focus on individual companies in these reviews but we have made an exception this year for Altice. Until not that long ago, few people had probably heard of this company or its founder Patrick Drahi, but its aggressive growth strategy has certainly brought it under the spotlight.
Also, don't forget to check out the 2015 Year in Review by FierceWireless, the 2015 Year in Review by FierceOnlineVideo, the 2015 Year in Review by FierceTelecom, the 2015 Year in Review by FierceCable and the 2015 Year in Review by FierceWirelessTech.
We hope you enjoy our summary of some of this year's key events and why we think they have been significant. Have a wonderful and restful festive period--see you next year! --Anne
P.S. After today, FierceWireless:Europe is taking a publishing break. While we will update the website with any breaking news, we will be back in your inbox on Jan. 4, 2016.